Don Gillis | Lead Technical Trainer
Emerson’s Educational Services
The use of commercial CO2 refrigeration technology is expected to increase significantly over the next few years. But in the U.S., very few service technicians have experience installing, commissioning and maintaining CO2 systems. I recently contributed to an article in Contracting Business that discussed how our industry is addressing the urgent need for CO2-specific education, training and certification programs.
Compared to legacy hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) systems, CO2 (refrigerant name R-744) has many unique performance characteristics and system properties. Because CO2 refrigeration is still relatively new to the U.S. market, most HVACR trade schools and technical colleges simply haven’t integrated CO2 topics into their refrigeration training programs. But today, that’s quickly changing.
Stakeholders collaborate to develop CO2 curriculum
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and industry organizations are actively trying to bridge this knowledge gap by developing CO2 training curricula and certification programs. As an industry steward of sustainable refrigeration and a provider of fully integrated CO2 solutions, Emerson is helping industry organizations to accelerate these efforts.
We’re collaborating with the North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC), the ESCO Group and other industry stakeholders to spearhead the development of the first CO2 curriculum for community college and trade school HVACR programs in the U.S.
According to Morgan Smith, program and communications director at the NASRC, the goal of this collaboration is to integrate a CO2 curriculum into the commercial refrigeration tracks at technical colleges. The new curriculum will cover a wide range of topics to help familiarize technicians with CO2 refrigeration, including:
- Basic terms and definitions of CO2 characteristics and systems
- CO2 safety fundamentals, such as: handling, tools and gauges, relief requirements, leak rates and room sensors
- Core curricula, including: required experience; understanding CO2 as a refrigerant; operating characteristics; types of CO2 systems; working with non-traditional system components, compressor types, control systems and equipment applications
- Installation procedures: handling CO2 as a refrigerant; installation fundamentals and piping insulation
- System commissioning procedures
- Service and maintenance procedures, such as: system charging and discharging; repairing and replacing components; CO2 oil management; CO2 system recovery; defrost methods and custom systems
“Because CO2 is so new to the U.S. commercial refrigeration market, technicians and end users have varying degrees of hesitation. We hope these training programs will help remove some of the mystery and concerns about using this efficient and environmentally friendly natural refrigerant,” Smith said.
Emerson CO2 training programs
Emerson continues to expand on our CO2-specific training initiatives through our mobile training units and Educational Services programs. In 2019, we introduced our third-generation CO2 mobile training unit to serve Canada and the continental U.S.; to date, it has trained more than 1,000 industry professionals in North America.
This year, we’ll be launching a second CO2 mobile training unit at Emerson Educational Services’ primary location in Sidney, Ohio. Once there, it will become the centerpiece of a two-day training program designed to give contractors, OEMs, wholesalers and end users a hands-on experience of what it’s like to work on a CO2 transcritical booster refrigeration system. As COVID-related health guidelines permit, we hope to send our CO2 mobile training units back on the road to be featured at industry events and provide training where it is needed most.
In addition, Emerson Educational Services currently offers two virtual and in-person training courses related to CO2:
- Two-day “CO2 Refrigeration” course specifically designed to train technicians
- One-day course entitled, “Fit for the Future: Working with Natural Refrigerants, A2Ls, and A1 HFO Blends”
The net goal of all these efforts is to give the entire commercial refrigeration supply chain — from wholesalers and distributors to OEMs, end users and service technicians — a greater familiarity and comfort level with CO2 refrigeration. To learn more about the CO2 training programs at Emerson, visit our course schedule, or contact Emerson Educational Services at Education@Emerson.com.